Declaration from the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS 2011

Thirty years into the AIDS epidemic, and 10 years since the landmark UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, leaders came together at the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS from 8–10 June 2011 in New York.


Sex Work coverage at the South African AIDS conferences: What’s the verdict?

By Marlise Richter

In June 2011, South Africa has hosted two significant conferences related to HIV and AIDS. The South African AIDS Conference and the 1st HIV International Social Science and Humanities Conference. Between them they attracted over 5000 delegates from academia and the HIV sector more broadly.

As in previous years, I analysed the number of abstracts published in conference proceedings that related to sex work in relation to the rest of the conference content (see article in Gender & Media Diversity Journal Issue 7.

The potential impact of a moderately effective HIV vaccine with rapidly waning protection in South Africa and Thailand

Although published data from the recent ALVAC/AIDSVAX trial in Thailand (RV144) indicated the HIV vaccine provided very modest protection overall (31.2%), new analysis of trial data has suggested higher efficacy levels earlier in the follow-up period. CDC and UNAIDS organized several modeling research teams to explore the implications of the trial results and potential utility of this vaccine.

Commercial Sex Work in Addis Ababa

Unlike the situation a few decades ago, commercial sex in Addis Ababa has increasingly become an occupation of women born and brought up in the city.

A new study, “Poverty and the Social Context of Sex Work in Addis Ababa”, by Bethelehem Tekola*, indicates that more than 50% of the women who are engaged in commercial sex are born and grew up in the city.

Review of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers in China

Abstract : Female sex workers (FSW) are at greater risk for HIV and STIs. A systematic literature review of HIV and STI prevalence and incidence data for FSW in China was conducted to assess current trends. Studies between 1996 and 2010 detailing seroprevalence or incidence data, other laboratory-based tests, and clinical diagnoses of infections among FSW were reviewed. Select articles from Chinese literature around street-based and drug-abusing FSW were also reviewed. Results revealed high median prevalence for a variety of STIs among FSW

Malawi: Case Challenging Mandatory HIV Testing of Sex Workers Filed in High Court

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Centre for the Development of People will be filing a challenge to the mandatory HIV testing of sex workers in Mwanza, Malawi.

The applicants, 11 sex workers, were arrested by police while at a local restaurant, taken to a local public hospital, and subjected to an HIV test without their consent.

The test results were announced publicly in court by the Magistrate and they were found guilty of spreading venereal disease. The Magistrate ordered those not from Mwanza to leave the locality.

Loss of follow-up among HIV infected female sex workers receiving antiretrovirals in Dakar, Senegal

Article in the Journal of AIDS and HIV Research Vol. 3(5), pp. 100-102, May 2011.

A better understanding of the significance and determinants of loss of follow-up and key potential related outcome measures, such as death and missed study visit would assist program evaluation and provide basis for future interventions. Senegal has one of Africa’s lowest HIV/AIDS infection rate, less than 1%. But vulnerable groups such as sex workers have higher HIV prevalence. Currently, HIV infection among legal sex workers in Dakar has risen to 27.1%, compared to 1% 20 years ago, (Fact sheet, 2004). The prostitution in Senegal has been regulated since 1969. Sex workers register at public health clinics like ours, where they receive photo identity cards and make monthly visits for medical checkups. However, many operate outside the system. We estimate that more than 80% of Senegal sex workers do not register. In a retrospective cohort analysis, loss of follow-rates and death were assessed among HIV infected female sex workers receiving antiretroviral drugs at the “Institute d'Hygiene Social” (IHS) of Dakar, Senegal. Records of 74 HIV infected female sex workers receiving antiretroviral treatment, and followed at the IHS from April 2001 to August 2008 were reviewed. Overall, 15 patients (20.3%) died and 42 (57%) were lost during an average follow-up period of 26 months (18.9). The mean age of patients was 46.6 years old (SD = 7.8) and the mean CD4 count at entry was 215 (SD = 68.6). Using Cox Regression models, we did not find a significant relationship between age, ethnicity, CD4 count at entry or HIV-1 vs. HIV-2 type and loss of follow-up. These findings indicate the need to obtain better longitudinal follow-up data for optimal assessment of the reasons for loss-of follow up among HIV infected female sex workers receiving ARV in Senegal.

(Abstract authors' own)

The role of brothels in reducing HIV risk in Sonagachi, India

Article by Ghose T, Swendeman DT, George SM. Qual Health Res. 2011 Jan 25.

High rates of empowerment, HIV-related knowledge, and condom use among sex workers in Sonagachi, India have been attributed to a community-led intervention called the Sonagachi HIV/AIDS Intervention Programme (SHIP). In this research Ghose and colleagues examined the crucial role of brothels in the success of the intervention. In-depth, semistructured interviews were conducted with 55 participants of SHIP. The results indicate that brothels help sex workers reduce HIV risk by (a) serving as targeted sites for SHIP's HIV intervention efforts, (b) being operated by madams (women managers of brothels) who participate in SHIP's intervention efforts and promote healthy regimes, (c) structuring the economic transactions and sexual performances related to sex work, thus standardizing sex-related behaviour, and (d) promoting community empowerment among brothel residents. Implications of these results are discussed for future efforts to replicate SHIP's success in other sex work communities.

(abstract authors' own)

Myanmar's sex worker clinics offer solace from stigma

by Alex Delamare, 23 May 2011.

When Thida Win contracted HIV after selling her body on the Yangon streets, it was her fellow sex workers that she turned to, not Myanmar's crumbling health service.

The Top project, run almost entirely by those in the sex trade, gave her treatment, a place to be herself away from the dual stigma of HIV and prostitution -- and eventually a job.

HIV treatment as prevention—it works

Article in the Lancet,  Volume 377, Issue 9779, Page 1719, 21 May 2011.

This article gives more detail on the recent trial of HIV treatment as a form of HIV prevention.

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